Ideas for Building a Horse Corral


Anyone looking to stable a horse at home will need a sturdy enclosure in which to keep the animal safe and away from temptations and dangers outside the fence. That means building a corral of some type, and there are many different materials to choose from. Factors to consider include the number and type of horses, your budget, your personal taste, and the horses themselves. Some horses will respect nearly any fence; others will push hard until they break something and go through to greener pastures. Your fence must be sturdy enough to contain your horse under any circumstances.

Types of Posts

The least expensive fences to build uses either metal or wooden posts combined with electrical wire or tape, smooth wire, or field fence. Four-inch by eight-foot round or wooden posts are more expensive than metal T-posts but many people find them more attractive. They are more labor-intensive to install, requiring that a hole be dug for each post, whereas T-posts can be driven into most ground that is not solid rock. Any type of fence will require solid corner posts at least six inches square to stand against the tension put on the wire when it is tightened, or to brace the weight of field fence. Railroad ties or pressure-treated 6 by 6-inch wooden posts set in concrete are commonly used for corner posts. It is also possible to obtain precast concrete posts.

Types of Wire

Horse fences can be erected using wooden or T-posts with two or three strands of electrical wire or tape. This requires a fence charger and ground rod and special insulators to mount on the post which match the wire or tape you use. Electrical fence requires a little extra maintenance to keep tall grass, low-hanging branches, and passing deer from shorting out or breaking the wire and allowing your horses to push their way through the lightweight wire. Sturdier fences can be built using three to five strands of smooth wire clipped to T-posts or stapled to wooden posts. A solid-looking barrier is presented to fence-crawling horses by the use of field fence, which is wire mesh you roll out and staple to wooden posts. All of these types of wire fences are relatively easy and quick to install, but vary in price and aesthetics.

Rail Fences

The classic fence presented by images of long-established horse farms is the white wooden or vinyl fence. These are the most beautiful, the most expensive, and the most labor-intensive to build, but also often are the lowest maintenance once erected. Materials for wooden posts involve sturdy corner posts of the type described earlier, square four-inch wood posts, and 6 by 6-inch rails ten feet long. These will need to be mounted to the posts using nails, screws, or bolts. Nails tend to back out over time, so screws or bolts are best, which can add to your cost but ensure a sturdier fence. Vinyl fence is very expensive and usually requires setting each post in concrete, but it is zero-maintenance except to replace any rails which might get broken. There is no periodic painting required, and horses seldom get hurt if they run into the fence and break a rail. Pipe fences are an alternative to wooden rail fences, using heavy-duty galvanized pipe that is smooth, low-maintenance and durable. It is expensive to install but offers little chance for horses to injure themselves.

Fencing Systems

There are many prefabricated "systems" for horse fencing, usually designed to provide some give when a horse runs into it, resisting without breaking and causing injury. These encompass flex rail, vinyl-coated wire, many types of electric fence systems, vinyl, and a variety of other fencing materials that are sold by the foot for assembly by the home owner. Anyone looking at horse fences would be well advised to evaluate all the options and weigh them against your particular needs and budget before committing to anything.

About this Author

Susan Bolich is a full-time freelancer of both non-fiction and fiction, published in venues as diverse as "Horse Illustrated" and the "Army Times." A graduate of Eastern Washington University, she spent six years in Europe as a military intelligence officer. Her degree in history and widespread travel experience provide a bottomless well of things to write about.

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